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Small-Gauge StorytellingDiscovering the Amateur Fiction Film$
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Ryan Shand and Ian Craven

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748656349

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748656349.001.0001

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. ‘This is not Hollywood!’: Peter Watkins and the Challenge of Amateurism to the Professional

. ‘This is not Hollywood!’: Peter Watkins and the Challenge of Amateurism to the Professional

(p.182) (p.183) 8. ‘This is not Hollywood!’: Peter Watkins and the Challenge of Amateurism to the Professional
Small-Gauge Storytelling

John R. Cook

Edinburgh University Press

Between 1956 and 1962, Peter Watkins (1935-) made a series of groundbreaking amateur fiction films with the help of Playcraft, a local amateur dramatic society, based in Canterbury, Kent. Two of these efforts, Diary of an Unknown Soldier (1959) and The Forgotten Faces (1961), would go on to win amateur film ‘Oscars’ in the IAC’s annual ‘Ten Best’ competition, bring him to the attention of a wider and more general public, and eventually help secure his cross-over into professional filmmaking. The films’ concerted challenge to Hollywood practices, as early explorations of ‘docudrama’ realism and depictions of war and conflict distant from then dominant British norms, marked ambitions that would be pursued in much of Watkins’ subsequent work. This chapter analyses Watkins’ pre-professional filmmaking in detail, and argues that the director’s amateurism did not dissolve with his movement into the professional sphere. Rather, an amateur stance is seen as informing his entire career, dramatising a reaction to what the director always perceived to be the restrictions and limitations of the professional sector.

Keywords:   Peter Watkins, Cross-over, Docudrama

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